Think and Drink: Preventing Dehydration
Summertime is great time to get outside and enjoy an outdoor barbecue, a baseball game, a parade, or sightseeing. However, when it is hot and humid, everyone’s risk of dehydration increases. So, it’s time to think and drink water. That water can come from a variety of foods and beverages, besides water itself. Milk and juice can take the place of water. Juicy fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, watermelon or cantaloupe, have lots of fluid in them too.
When it’s hot, elderly and children are particularly at risk for dehydration because of their low body weights. Elderly are most likely to skip meals and not drink enough water. And the elderly are most likely to be taking medications which could cause them to be thirstier, or to have health conditions such as diabetes or kidney or heart disease, which makes them more vulnerable to dehydration.
How much water should you drink? Men should drink 13 cups of water each day, and women should drink 9 cups of water each day, according to the Institute of Medicine quoted on the website of the Mayo Clinic. On the day of your outing, be sure to drink one to three cups of water before you go out in the heat.
Here are some helpful think and drink tips:
- Bring along a water bottle or a cooler with water in it so you can take water breaks while you are outdoors. Get into the habit of carrying a water bottle in the car with you; you never know when you might need it.
- If plain water gets boring, check out those flavored water drinks or the flavoring packages that you put into your water. Choose ones that don’t have a lot of extra sugar in them. Don’t think that a cold beer or a cola drink will take the place of the water you should be drinking. Caffeine in cold drinks, coffee and alcohol has a diuretic effect, which means that these drinks can cause your body to lose fluids by urinating more. Water is what your body needs when you are out in the heat.
- Wear cool, loose clothing. Wear a hat or cover up with an umbrella. Bring a damp cloth with you to cool your face.
- Stay in the shade for a break, or go to an air conditioned spot inside or in your car to sit in air conditioning for a while.
What are the danger signs you should look for when you and your loved ones are out in the heat?
Symptoms of dehydration can worsen and cause more serious problems if you don’t take care of them soon.
- Dizziness, headache, darkened urine, confusion and weakness are serious symptoms, and indicate that emergency medical services should be contacted immediately.
- Low blood pressure and rapid pulse are signs that intravenous fluids may be needed.
If untreated, dehydration can lead to shock, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Check out more information about dehydration at the website of the Mayo Clinic.